• Florida’s Land and Water Legacy Proposed Constitutional Amendment
  • November 28, 2014 | Author: Maribel N. Nicholson-Choice
  • Law Firm: Greenberg Traurig, LLP - Tallahassee Office
  • Florida’s Water and Land Legacy was founded in July 2012 by approximately thirteen environmental groups, including 1000 Friends of Florida, the Sierra Club and Audubon Florida, who with the support primarily of other environmental groups, citizens and civic organizations gathered sufficient signatures from Florida voters to place Amendment 1: the Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 2014 ballot.

    This amendment would create a funding guarantee for environmental conservation. The availability of these monies for land acquisition could have the effect of limiting growth and land development in the State where, for example, these funds are used to purchase ocean front property for a State park or to purchase lands to expand existing, sufficient wildlife management areas. It states:

    SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund.—

    a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.

    b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:

    1. As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.

    2. To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).

    c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.

    Amendment 1 proposes to direct 33% “doc stamps” or excise tax revenues collected from real estate transactions to finance (or refinance) the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property and resources for conservation. Amendment 1 would set aside funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to conserve and restore certain lands including wildlife management areas and rural areas; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; lands that protect water resources including drinking water, groundwater, and the aquifer system together with lands in the Everglades; as well as historic or geologic sites, and beaches and shores. These funds can also be used to enhance public access to conservation lands or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.

    If approved by 60% of those voting on November 4, 2014, Amendment 1 would become effective July 1, 2015 for a period of 20 years or until July 1, 2035. A similar effort in 2012 failed.